Do you remember being at school at the methods used back then being totally different to those being taught now? Have you sat down with your child over the past year and thought… hang on what?! Well you are not alone. The English National Curriculum has undergone many changes in its history and has ‘evolved’ with the times. This might leave you scratching your head wondering why the old methods have been flung out the window as we all know we learnt math and get along just fine now (minus that nonsense we learnt about algebra and Pythagoras that we’ve yet to use in life).
There are valid reasons for the changes, reasons that ensure children UNDERSTAND the inner workings of maths more clearly. For example when we learnt the column method for addition we just added the numbers and came to our answer. The column method is still used but the foundations of this method need to be clear before skipping straight to simple adding. 23 + 45 – for example; children will add the 3 + 5 easily as these are simple ones. However children need to understand there are 2 lots of 10 to be added to 4 lots of 10. Rather than just 2 + 4. Without this basic understanding the concept of numbers can be lost of irrelevant. Which is why many teachers who teach in early years or Key Stage 1 tend to keep column method at arms length until these foundations are secure. The most important component of maths in Primary school is basic understanding and manipulation of numbers. Without this children will find it hard to use money, measure, tell the time, divide and multiply. Imagine a line of dominoes, if children miss those vital number concepts then that removes multiple dominoes from the run, leading to breaks or pauses in later education which will then need to be revisited. Keeping those methods simple and real ensures a smooth flow of dominoes along their life of learning.
During this time of home learning you may be faced with a method, a diagram or a concept that YOU remember being taught – but in a totally different way. Try and follow the line of thought from the school as there are valid reasons for the change. However, if you find yourself stuck and at a total loss as to how to support your offspring with this foreign language then try these simple at home maths ideas that will keep their little maths brains ticking!
- Let’s Play Shop – You will need: a range of coins, play food or packets from the cupboard, a calculator or simply a pen and paper.
This is a simple way to manipulate number and can be differentiated to meet the level of your child. Label all the objects at round numbers for ease of adding or branch out into more complex numbers for them to add together. If your child is experienced with this give them the challenge of working out change! Don’t get too bogged down with the decimal point if your child is younger – keep it all in pence £1 = 100p.
- Let’s Bake – You will need: A recipe to follow, kitchen scales/ measuring jug.
Another thing you will all be doing during this time! It might be messy, it might end in something that Mary Berry would shudder at, but the idea of measuring is so important. Pull out all the different measuring tools you have with scales on and get them to experiment. Flip it on its head and get them to tell you how much you have – reading and creating amounts on a scale.
- What’s the weather? – You will need: A thermometer, clock, pen and paper
Linking further to scales with the added element of telling the time. Get children to create a weather journal. Large thermometers can be picked up from Amazon quite cheaply, stick one outside and get children to record the temperatures of different times. This will help them to tell the time, read a scale and track data! Triple whammy!
- Junk Model Mayhem – You will need: Anything in your recycle bin, sticky tape,
This is a great simple maths activities for little hands that will help develop vocabulary for 2D and 3D shapes. Build a model, alien or town using things from your recycling. Get the children to make list (verbal or on paper) of all the shapes they have used. Twinkl have great shape mats to help them identify the shapes and remind them of their names. Continue by doing a shape hunt around the house.
- How Many Ways! – You will need: A range of objects to create a certain number
This is something we do at school to develop that all round number knowledge. The number 5 isn’t just 5 sweets. It’s a tally, 5p, written in words, dots in a 10s frame, identified on a number line. Having a number of the day/ week will give more depth to their understanding of numbers.